Now that spring is underway; the garden is filling nicely with greens and flowers. So it’s nice to join theCathy’s for some Monday cheer.
After gathering greens from one azalea and three calla lilies, I cut a handful of the fading yellow Freesia. Try as I might, though, I couldn’t get the flowers to work in one arrangement. I arranged two smaller vases, one with Freesia and azalea greens,
Cathy at Rambling in the Garden arranges flowers in a vase year-round, and posts her creations each Monday. I’m always impressed with what she pulls together. In addition, several bloggers join the creative process, posting there In a Vase on Monday and linking to Cathy’s blog.
I discovered Cathy at Rambling in the Garden through Cathy at Words and Herbs, yet another example of how I love this blogging world. I like to refer to them casually as The Cathys. I hope they don’t mind.
I filled today’s vase with my beloved Freesia in yellows and whites. Then, I clipped some greens from our Pittosporum (Pittosporum tobira). The Pittosporum, sometimes called mock orange, is one of two trees that preceded our move to this house 27 years ago.
Rounding out the color are a few orange nasturtium (Tropaeolum). The stems are weak, but I couldn’t resist their vibrant color. They self-seed all over the garden this time of year in reds, yellows, and oranges.
I found the vase at a vintage shop a few years ago. I bought it for a song, telling me it’s neither vintage nor valuable, but with a ceramic cat hanging from the edge, it’s priceless.
Several years back, I discovered Postcrossing while researching vintage postage. I’ve always loved snail mail and for years kept up a correspondence with friends worldwide.
Postcrossing is the creation of Paulo Magalhães. Simply put, he started the project so he would receive more postcards in his mailbox. To date, 68 million postcards are in circulation.
“The goal of this project is to allow anyone to send and receive postcards from all over the world! For each postcard you send, you will receive one back from a random postcrosser.”
I set up a Postcrossing profile in March of 2016. Over the years, I’ve sent and received 257 postcards from 40 countries.
The organizer in me enjoyed sorting the cards by country, but as my collection grew, I started sorting by subject. As a result, my collection includes gorgeous cat photos and illustrations, botanical drawings, and clever garden illustrations.
It seemed a shame to keep these miniature works of art in a box, so I came up with the idea of laminating several cards to use as a cover for my garden bench.
First, I created a template using a piece of thick gift wrap, then arranged the cards within the parameters of the bench’s surface.
Our local teacher’s supply store has an oversized laminator. They charge by the inch, so it’s a bargain. I used the laminator to fuse the cards to the gift wrap, returning home with what looked like a large placemat.
I slid the sheet of laminated postcards below the clear acrylic top.
I’m pleased with the final results and reminded once again how a bit of creativity soothes the soul. It’s fun remembering when each of these cards arrived in the mail, and what a joy it is to send and receive cards around the world.
Postscript: May I send you a postcard? If you would like a card in your mailbox, please send me your name and address via my contact form. I’m happy to post your card anywhere in the world.
I spent the solstice gathering a few cuttings from the garden and marveling at what survives both drought and early frost. Plants are resilient.
I snipped three miniature roses, a handful of Salvia leucantha, and geranium foliage to make a small arrangement. There’s a sprig of something pink in there as well, but in the early hours, the name escapes me.
My youngest son is home for the holidays this year, along with his sweet pup Juneau. I’m so happy to have them here for a few weeks, but Juneau’s boisterous presence puts out all three felines.
So, for now, our bedroom serves triple duty as Mike’s office and a feline hotel. Lindy is oblivious to the dog’s presence, but she has to share her favorite spot under the bed. Mouse wants to let the dog know he’s in charge, and Tessa is scared. Extra loving and treats help smooth things out, and of course, the situation is temporary.
I made several Christmas cards this year, but I’ve been slow to send them. Lifted Spirits hosted its first-ever “shop without your wallet” event for survivors of domestic violence. It was an enormous time commitment organizing clothing racks, scarves, and other goodies, but it all came together beautifully. My friend and fellow volunteer Mary organized refreshments and volunteers for the day. Our ED quietly got the word out.
I set up craft tables for the children in the center of the room, and a colleague donated an over-the-top Christmas tree, pictured below. Clothing and jewelry stations were arranged in a U-shape so the children could see their mother at all times and vice-versa.
The success of this event has energized us. Our team hopes to do this again in the future. Throughout the event, we served 65 women and 35 children. Domestic violence has soared since the start of the pandemic. I needed to focus on our work instead of its reasons for my sanity.
December’s creative endeavors included my annual snow globe
and a seasonal update to my miniature display. These projects are restorative and fun.
Today I’m headed downtown for our pandemic-friendly Christmas celebration for women in need. After that, I’ll enjoy a week off with my family and the quiet unfolding of moments spent together.
Several years ago I spotted a book box in a nearby neighborhood and I fell in love with the idea. I came home and told Mike. It took several months to bring the idea to fruition, but by January the following year, we had a Little Free Library of our own. It sits at the curb near the garden and attracts visitors throughout the day.
Being a part of the Little Free Library movement has been a joyous experience. I’m friends with the owner of the library that inspired me, and I’ve met other LFL stewards along the way.
My friend Nick built the first library from scratch using reclaimed and recycled material. He did an amazing job. He even thought to add light by connecting it to a landscape light below.
After several years in the sun, the library needed a facelift. My friend and artist Donna Pierre worked her craft. Donna has amazing ideas and the skills to see those ideas to fruition.
When I sit in my home office or work in the kitchen, I see visitors throughout the day. The Little Free Library attracts people of all ages.
Last year when the pandemic hit, the library’s use skyrocketed. Children were out of school looking for something to do. Teachers stopped by, with one explaining that she had been forced to leave her classroom on short notice without any teaching materials. Some stewards closed their library for fear of spreading COVID. I left mine in place, assuming that books could be wiped down if necessary. In those days people were wiping down groceries.
I had several children’s books stored in my garage, so I took a large plastic bin, turned it on its side, and filled it with my stash. I placed the box along the low wall leading up to our deck. It’s the perfect height for small readers.
As the weather started cooling down, I knew the plastic bin would need modifying or replacing. Right on cue, the bin cracked, brittle from the overhead sun. It had to go.
The only thing better than one Little Free Library is a second one. I ordered the largest pre-made box available through LittleFreeLibrary.org and asked my friend Donna if she could work her magic once again.
This allowed us to support the LFL non-profit while providing work to a local artist. I stocked the original library with children’s books on one side and adult fare on the other. The second Little Free Library is exclusively children’s books.
I read voraciously growing up. Libraries in my youth were a refuge and a treat. I thought I would grow up to be a librarian. It’s been a circuitous route, but in my way I’m living that librarian dream. What a thrill!
Hot August days invite a certain melancholy. As July comes to a close, an ancient grief rises to the surface and the more I swat it away, the more it demands my time. My nine-year-old self rises to the surface and reminds me of my terrible loss: the death of my father on an oppressively hot, early August day.
Dad was a horticulturist by trade, but his love of gardening came home with him as well. He built our Ontario garden from scratch, changing a mound of dirt into what felt like paradise.
Daddy’s easel, hung on the wall of my crafting area. Photos of his model of the Golden Hind, Dad with a dog on someone’s porch, the flower shop he once owned with my Mum in Seaforth, Canada
If he were with me today, I would place my hand in his and we would walk through my garden together.
A bee gathers pollen from the chocolate mint in bloom
I once captured bees in a jar to show my dad I was brave. He explained in his kind way why I should set them free. They’re good for the garden he said. I was six at the time but for some reason that memory remains sharp and clear. Perhaps when memories are scarce, we hang on to what we can.
A bee travels the garden
We had a shorter growing season in Canada, but Dad was able grow tomatoes each summer. What fun we had harvesting the fruit and bringing it through the back door for our lunch.
Three green tomatoes, coming along nicely in the curb garden
Tomato plant in bloom
Dad didn’t grow pumpkins in our Ontario garden. It would be especially fun to show off my beautiful specimen and to smile about the squirrels that most likely planted them.
A tree rat helps himself to some bird food late one night
Dad loved all animals, once rescuing a mouse from a group of boys on the street in his home town of Oldham, England. I too rescue rats and mice and though most people cringe, I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
Mouse surveying the curb garden
Daddy would surely get a kick out of a different kind of mouse: Mouse the Cat. Mouse is a rescue too, in his own way.
I descended from a long line of people who rescue strays. It’s a wonderful lineage.
These hot days will pass and my mood will lift, but for now I’m making room for that ancient loss and grief.
Hummingbirds flap their wings about 55 times a second! The resulting sound is soothing, like a constant heartbeat. We have three feeders in our garden, in addition to several of their favorite flowers. When the plants are in bloom, the Anna’s Hummingbirds enjoy Salvia (we have four) and Abutilon (we have six).
While taking pictures of my lemons for a different post, I could hear one flapping over head. I took a few shots near one of the feeders, before she flew past me into the shrubs. For the first time, I saw her dip her beak into a spider web. I managed one shot before she flew away.
Anna’s Hummingbird Gathering Spiderweb for her Nest
Did you know that hummingbirds line their nest with spider webs? They also eat soft-bodied insects when they’re feeding their young. The prospect of a nest of hummingbirds nearby has me feeling giddy.
It’s been almost three months since my foot surgery. If you’re new to my blog, you can catch up here. Dr. Sheth said I’m actually “ahead of schedule.” She kindly added that she thought my positive outlook and my commitment to following the healing protocol all worked in my favor. So while I still have some pain and swelling, I have the all-clear for walking again. I’m one happy woman.
Peter Piper may have picked a peck of pickled peppers, but I’m picking purple petals from my perfect garden. It’s a purple palooza.
Ha! Say that three times.
The small corner garden near the walkway to our door looks like royalty. It’s awash in three shades of purple, with dots of orange and green accents. Last year’s sweet peas re-seeded and came back in a royal flush.
Sweet pea flowers give way to seed pods
They’re in good company too. Love-in-a-Mist scattered seeds everywhere and now lines the sidewalk in a purple haze. Pay no attention to the dying grass in the background. The lawn is on its way out.
Self-seeding love-in-a-mist line the walkway
The Statice flowered early this year, showing pearly white blooms in the center of the calyx. I love the way they compliment each other.
Statice: calyx and flowers
One California poppy grows at the edge, but I fear a dog is lifting its leg once a day as the foliage is looking a bit…tired. The plant is still hanging in there though. Go Team Violet! Go state flower!
California poppy wrapped up for the night
Love-in-a-mist blooms and seed pods
Things you many not know:
The word ‘purple’ comes from the Old English word purpul which derives from the Latin purpura, in turn from the Greek πορφύρα (porphura), name of the Tyrian purple dye manufactured in classical antiquity from a mucus secreted by the spiny dye-murex snail.-Wikipedia
Today, science has revealed much more about purple than our ancestors ever realized: Purple is the most powerful visible wavelength of electromagnetic energy. It’s just a few steps away from x-rays and gamma rays. – Color Matters
The color purple is a rare occurring color in nature and as a result is often seen as having sacred meaning. Lavender, orchid, lilac, and violet flowers are considered delicate and precious. –Bourn Creative
Have you ever planted one of those seed assortments that promise extraordinary results with no effort? According to the package, a jaw-dropping butterfly garden will appear within a matter of weeks. All you have to do is scatter the seeds in the soil, cover, water and enjoy.
I’ve fallen for the sales pitch twice now and I should know better. It seems irresistible when you see the photo on the packet with 100 square feet (30 meters) of wildflowers. In my experience, ‘thousands of seeds’ turn out to be one, maybe two hardy plants. The end.
have sown themselves throughout the garden. They’ve traveled from the front to the back of the house, filling in the spaces in between. I even saw a few in the neighborhood on our evening walk. Those seeds get around!
They’re all welcome in my garden, with their tender greens, pops of yellow and soon, love-in-a-mist lavender blooms.
We’re on strict water restrictions as we work our way through year four of the drought. So far, the seedlings are getting by on morning dew and an occasional watering. We’re turning off the sprinklers to the lawn completely and hope to eventually replace lawn with a native alternative.
Meanwhile, I’m enjoying these unexpected gifts and their presence in my arid garden.
What’s the water situation in your neck of the woods?
I’m finally feeling like myself again after a week and a half of vertigo. It was nice to walk through the garden on this unseasonably warm day.
I met a brave squirrel while crouched taking photos.
He spotted Mouse-the-cat and wandered off, but he really wasn’t in any hurry.
It’s all about me, right?
After refilling the hummingbird feeder, I enjoyed this little darling in flight.
Ana’s Hummingbird lands on the feeder
Hummingbirds need to eat every thirty minutes
The garden show stopper this time of year is the Hardenbergia Violaceae. Who doesn’t like a gorgeous vine that flowers in winter?
Hardenbergia growing along the fence
No need to raise your hand.
I found this lovely description along with a bit of history from San Marcos Growers in Santa Barbara, California:
Hardenbergia Violaceae ‘Happy Wanderer’ (Purple Vine Lilac) requires little water once established. The species is widespread through much of Australia and can be found in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania where it grows from along the coast to up in the mountains. It was first described (as Glycine Violaceae) by the Dutch botanist George Voorhelm Schneevoogt in Icones Plantarum Rariorum in 1793 from cultivated plants that were thought to be from seeds collected in the Sydney area in the first few years of that settlement. Glycine is the genus of the related soy bean (Glycine max) and this plant was later combined with Hardenbergia, a name Bentham used in 1837 when describing Hardenbergia ovata. The name for the genus honors Franziska Countess von Hardenberg, sister of the Baron Karl von Hugel, a 19th century Austrian patron of botany who collected plants while on an expedition to Australia in 1833. The specific epithet is in reference to the typical color of the flower. Other common names include Purple Coral Pea, Happy Wanderer, Native Lilac. Because the long, carrot-like root was reportedly used as a substitute for sarsaparilla by Australian aboriginal bushmen, it also has the common names Australian Sarsaparilla and False Sarsaparilla. The Australian aboriginal name for it is Waraburra.
Don’t you love learning new things?
I hope you enjoy your weekend, rain or shine, snow or thaw. I’ll see you next week.